Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9
Hi GLA families!
We are so happy almost all of our students have arrived safely in Thailand! After very long flights, and navigating new places alone, the students are with us and ready for the adventures and learnings to come.
We welcomed 5 students on Saturday morning (Amelia, Alexis, Allie, Phillip & Teddy) and a further 3 students (Tyler, Elliot & Max) in the afternoon. After a freshen up at the hotel, together we had some Thai food, changed some dollars for Thai baht and had a swim in the hotel pool. We received Alex in the afternoon and some of our students arrived in the evening (Chloe, Ella, Jason & Katie), with 10 students arriving close to midnight! (Matthew, Jared, Bianca, Allie, Charley, Sophia, Molly, Rose, Gabrielle, Gemma). Although tired, they showed positivism and enthusiasm towards the upcoming days! We now only have one student (Aidan) left to come and he will catch up with us in Koh Samui.
Today we had a little time in the morning to start our orientation and learn about Thai greetings and culture before we flew to our first island, Koh Samui! The group has started to bond with each other and share their expectations and hopes for the upcoming days.
We feel excited about having our second student group of the season here, and can’t wait for the adventures, lifelong memories and deep friendships that await.
The GLA team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Written by the leaders of the day: Alexis and Katie
Title: Learning what Koh Samui is about
We started off today, waking up around 6:30am, heading to breakfast at 7:15am. We had a wonderful buffet breakfast and shared a fun morning together before heading to a local school.
We spent a couple of hours teaching English to kids aged 8-12. At school we received the last student, Aidan! It was very eye opening getting to spend this time with these students, and learn how they spend a typical school day. We will hold onto these memories for a long time, as we all shared many laughs, and exchangings of our languages. We wrapped up the school day, saying our goodbyes and going back to the hotel to enjoy some beach time.
Later, we grouped together and planned out our plans for the following day (for the cultural exchange with another school). We then walked to the local market where we ate some great food and did some shopping.
Overall, it was a great second day. We all got to know each other better, and were looking so forward to what the rest of the week has to hold.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
Written by the Leaders of the day: Gabby and Chloe
Title: Immersion into Thai Culture
We went to the public high school on Koh Samui immersing ourselves in Thai culture through the local students our own age. At the school we watched a traditional dance performed by the students: Manora, which focused on the dancer’s theatre-like movements, as well as the unique instrumentation. Along with that, we were able to perform our own dance to show the Thai students a bit of the American culture, not quite as impressive.
Following the performances we split off into smaller groups, consisting of a mixture of Thai and GLA students, in order to recognize similarities and differences in our cultures.
This was a fantastic opportunity to realize that although we may live on two opposite sides of the world, we can offer each other so many valuable lessons applicable to our everyday lives.
Even through such a short amount of time, as GLA students we were able to make deep connections with the other students, outlining that in the end we are all just high school students looking to learn, challenge ourselves, and just have a good time.
After we said our farewells to the Thai school, we returned to our hotel where we got to learn about the issues of child begging in Thailand through a debate style. We grouped up and took roles as the Thai government, tourists, and a foundation protecting Thai children rights. This experience broadened our perspective on the responsibility that us as tourists take in protecting Thai children while visiting.
We finished off the day swimming in the ocean, dinner, and simply spending time together. We look forward to going to Koh Tao tomorrow and continuing our adventures.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 13
Written by the leaders of the day: Elliot and Phillip
Title: Koh Tao, Wow!
So, our day started around 6:15 where we grabbed our luggage and gathered around the lobby to drop it off in our hotel on Koh Samui. We then ate a light breakfast knowing that we had a long, treacherous, two hour ferry ride to Koh Tao ahead of us. Due to high winds, we had to wait around an hour at the harbor before our boat could arrive, so we all took pictures, conversed, and even bought snacks from Thai vendors.
Once that hour passed we all boarded the ferry, prepared for the rough ride ahead of us. A lot of us sat on the upper deck where we enjoyed the beautiful views of neighboring islands and talked to other passengers. Others unfortunately had a journey with some sea sickness.
We took pickup trucks to our new resort. In-touch resort is next to a beach and a short walk to a local convenience store. After we got to the resort we ate lunch and then we had a rest period to settle in. After our nap we took to the beach. We saw some cool rocks on the beach but the glass and loads of trash plundered our experience.
Before dinner we split into mentor groups and learned more about each other. After dinner we all took a trip to the convenience store to stock up on snacks. Before bedtime we all went up to a roof to hang out. The views and conversations up there were great and it was the perfect end to our long day. We are all looking forward to learning about marine conservation tomorrow.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 14
Written by the leaders of the day: Tyler and Allie Smail
Title: Big Blue and Big Beach Clean up
We started our second day on beautiful Koh Tao with a delicious breakfast. Once everyone was fueled up and ready for the day of service ahead of us we began our walk to Big Blue Diving Center.
There we met 2 very talented marine biologists and conservation activists, Jade and Ciara. They taught us all about their passion for the environment and for scuba diving. We learned so many things about pollution, diving, and the effects we have on marine life.
After the presentation we ate a big lunch together in the diving center and some of us walked across the street for ice cream. The taste of it reminded many of us of home. Fueled up again we headed for the beach, biodegradable trash bags and gloves in hand. We all took to the polluted beach and picked up trash until our bags were full.
Then the marine biologists helped us organize and categorize the trash into different groups. This way, the center could learn about the types of trash from fishing gear, to styrofoam, to plastic fragments. The bottle caps of bottles we kept to take to a local recycling plant to be made into jewelry. The whole service adventure was very educational and effective as we cleaned thousands of pieces of debris from the beach. After restoring the beauty we properly disposed of the trash and headed back to base camp.
There we showered, and in our mentor groups we discussed the benefits of leadership working with everyone’s specific personality. It was a super engaging experience. I got to learn about my own strength and weakness with my leadership and how we all compliment each other.
Overall it was a very productive day that ended with an incredible dinner and with everyone hanging out on the roof of the hotel.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 15
Written by Molly, Ella, and Milly
Title: Scuba Diving Ko Tao Day 1!
Leader of the Day: Molly
Today in Ko Tao, Ila’s mentor group got the opportunity to scuba dive in two beautiful locations off the coast of the island: Mango Bay and Lighthouse Bay. Firstly, we were split into two groups of 4 to receive a beginner’s course on how to scuba. There we learned how to breathe underwater with the regulator, share a regulator if it runs out, get water out of the mask underwater, equalizing, and how to descend and ascend. Afterwards, we took our skills to the open water where we participated in 2 dives reaching a maximum depth of 12 meters. Following the dives, we jumped off the top of the boat and swam around the picturesque water surrounding Ko Tao. The day ended with a beautiful celebration of Alex’s 17th birthday. A wonderful day in Ko Tao!
Title: Reef Nurseries and Waterway Clean Up!
Leader of the Day: Ella
Today Luismi’s mentors group took part in two service projects; building reef nurseries and participating in a local waterway clean up. We started the day learning about artificial coral reefs and their importance to the local biodiversity. We built the structures used to transfer juvenile coral to a more permanent home. Afterward, we hiked down the coast though abandon hotels to reach a variety of beautiful beaches covered in trash. For the remainder of the day, we restored their natural beauty. We even had some extra time to swim in the beautiful waters of Ko Tao!
Title: Free Diving Ko Tao Day 1!
Leader of the Day: Milly
To begin the day, we ate breakfast at the In Touch restaurant by the beach. We then walked down to the Big Blue hub and this is where we did an hour’s freediving theory with Mark. It was fascinating to learn the activities history, which started 10,000 years ago, where diving was the job of hunters and bankers. Modern freediving however is a sport, the record being 131m down. We tried various breath hold techniques and tested them in the pool. Alex managed to last the longest at 3.30 minutes, which we were all very impressed by. In the afternoon we took a very bumpy ride to a local beach and snorkelled in the turquoise waters identifying fishes and corals. I loved seeing the underwater world and getting closer with my group. To finish there was a pizza party to celebrate Alex’s birthday, an overall beautiful day!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 16
Written by Charley, Rose, and Bianca
Title: Scuba Diving Ko Tao Day 2
Leader of the Day: Charley
Today, we went scuba diving!! We started our day off walking to Big Blue diving where we learned how to do the proper scuba diving procedures. After lunch, we headed to the beach where we took a boat to the diving area. We had a beautiful day on the water where we saw so many beautiful fish and spent an amazing time together. After getting back to the main land, we had dinner and went shopping. This was certainly a day to remember!
Title: Free Diving Ko Tao Day 2
Leader of the day: Rose
We started of our day with a nice breakfast. Then we walked down to Big Blue to begin our day. Luismi’s group was free diving and snorkelling today, so once we got there and bought some t-shirts from the dive shop, we went down to the classroom to start our lesson with Mark. He taught us good strategies and breathing techniques to increase our static breath hold starting in the classroom. Then we used those skills in the nice refreshing pool. We all practiced and improved on our times. Then we met up with the other groups in the restaurant to eat food to be fuelled for the rest of the day. We then took a taxi with Jade and Ciara to a gorgeous beach where we snorkelled and practiced some of our free diving skills while we surveyed fish and the coral. Then the rest of the time at the beach we either lay in the sun, got smoothies, or kept enjoying the beautiful water. After we got back to the hotel we rested up for a while and ate dinner while the sun was setting which was awesome. At night we split up into groups with a mentor and went shopping!! My group was with the new mentor Margarida and we enjoyed looking for bracelets/jewellery and eating some sweet treats. Awesome day on Ko Tao!!
Title: Reef Nurseries and Waterway Clean Up
Leader of the Day: Bianca
Today was hiking day. We started off the day with breakfast then took off for Big Blue. We put together some pretty cool artificial reef structures and learned about coral and the struggles Thailand and Ko Tao in particular face when talking about marine life. After lunch we set off for our hike. The hike was tough and long but once we made it to the pretty water and cool snorkelling it was all worthwhile. After our hike we took a taxi back to our hotel where we all got ready for our massages. We all got 30-minute Thai massages and then headed back for dinner. Dinner was delicious and following that, we went into “town” where we shopped around for snacks and souvenirs to end our day.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 17
Written by Sophia, Jason, and Gemma
Title: Free Diving Ko Tao Day 3
Leader of the Day: Sophia
Today we started off by going to breakfast and then we set off on our walk towards Big Blue. After that we learned about the physiology and mental ability of free divers and we learned breathing techniques to help us hold our breath longer. Our instructor brought us to the pool and we practiced the new techniques we learned during static free diving. Once everyone was finished recording our time, we enter the café where we had delicious burritos. Then all the groups disbursed and we began our journey to the beach where we snorkelled. We saw a lot of cool fish, a baby shark and beautiful coral. Snorkelling is so fun! We went back to the Hotel, had a great dinner and played some games. It was a great day!
Title: Reef Nurseries and Waterway Clean Up
Leader of the Day: Jason
Today we went hiking along a beautiful trail that led us to two deserted resorts along the beach. Here we learned that the two resorts were sadly closed down due to the struggle to keep up with facilities during covid. In the resorts there were many breath-taking views of outlooks of the horizon. While at the beach we went for a little swim accompanied by our dog friend Rusty who joined half way. We also picked up lingering trash that had washed up on the beach and left. There were also many cool rock formations we were allowed to climb. While walking we could see many things such as crabs, fish, and coral. To wrap up our day we went back to home base showers up and enjoyed relaxing messages.
Title: Scuba Diving Ko Tao Day 3
Leader of the Day: Gemma
Today in Koh Tao, Luismi’s mentor group went scuba diving. We started our day with breakfast at 7:30am at the restaurant in our resort. We then made our way to Big Blue where we participated in a scuba theory lesson and skill session in the pool. After lunch, we loaded onto the boat and set off for our first dive spot. We did our first dive at Mango Bay. We dived for approximately 40 minutes before going to our second dive spot where we did another 40-minute dive. We then took a short boat drive back the main Island to have dinner. We had an amazing day of diving!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 18
Written by Leaders of the Day: Allie and Aidan
Title: Last day at Big Blue on Ko Tao!
We started our day at 7:30 am with a big breakfast provided by our hotel InTouch Resort. Then we made our daily walk over to Big Blue to partake in our last conservation activity with them, a micro plastic survey of Sairee beach.
Once at Big Blue, we immediately headed over to the beach with our shovels, sieves, buckets, and quadrats. The plan was to fill the bucket with water and dump the sand we dug up into it so that any micro plastics would float to the top while the sand sink to the bottom. From there, one person would skim the top of the water with the sieve to catch the micro plastics which would then be recorded on our paper. Everyone was split up into our three mentor groups where each group did the process at three different intervals, 15 meters apart.
After our survey we walked back to Big Blue for an information session, given by Ciara and Jade, on how to continue diving in the future and how to use our social media to further causes we believe in. We ate a delicious lunch at (I don’t remember the name of the cafe), then headed back to the home base for showers and free time.
Once everyone got ready, we began our journey to Nang Yuan Island. We took a quick 10-minute boat ride. Upon arriving, you could instantly see the stunning coral and glimmering ocean waves. Getting off the boat, we set straight for the beach; hoping to successfully see some big fish. Each person had their own snorkel as we all prepared to submerge into the underwater world. The water was filled with electric bright coral, neon fish swerving throughout the rocks, and multiple groups of small fish clustering together. The magical underwater world was breathtaking for everyone. We stayed at Nang Yuan Island for a few hours more to enjoy the beach and the water.
After we left, we were given some more free time to relax and get ready, as we had a big barbecue celebration coming up. Once we were all ready, we left at 6:30 to our bbq dinner as we walked down the beach, taking in the scenery of the setting sun reflecting off the glistening ripples in the passing waves. Walking down the beach, we soon found ourselves having arrived. The music was loud and heavy with rap and a surplus of bass. Still disco lights illuminated the entire area as we sat down waiting to eat. We were quickly given the okay to eat as we were pleasantly greeted by the familiar faces of the big blue diving staff. We all sat down enjoying the food as infectious music continued to blast. After the meal, we were shown a 10 minute video of all recorded footage of our three-day marine adventures. Afterwards, everyone in the room clapped triumphantly as the staff thanked us for our service. We soon headed back to base for a long nights sleep.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 19
Written by Teddy and Matthew
We woke up in Koh Tao for the last time and had our group breakfast before heading for the boat ferry back to Koh Samui. The boat ride this time was a lot smoother and no one threw up this time. We docked two and a half hours later and drove straight to the Elephant sanctuary.
When we arrived the awesome staff at the sanctuary greeted us and shows us the amazing creatures. We then sat down to have lunch and talk about how we can save these elephants from people who take advantage of them. We then were taught how to make there food and feed them. After that some of the group jumped in the mud with the elephants to clean them off and hangout in the mud with them. After all that was done we showered and packed all of our stuff up to head back to the hotel.
Everyone settled back into our hotel after a great day. We all had dinner at 6:30 and after that we participated in a fun activity in our mentor groups. Lastly, everyone had 30 minutes more of free time before going to bed.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 20
Title: Visiting the Temples and Pig Island!
Written by Alex, Max, Jared
We started our day with a delicious 8:30 buffet breakfast . After our meal, we all got ready to head to our first of two temples. The temple had an outlook of the city and multiple Statues and symbols of Buddha.
After learning about the temple, we went to a second one consisting of the Big Buddha (a massive statue of Buddha). The temple also had outlooks of the city. Also, with a variety of shops nearby, the mentors allowed us to go shopping in the local vendors. Many of us bought delicious ice cream and/or smoothies. But there was also a wide variety of things from jewelry to clothes.
After finishing up the second temple, we are all exited to have our mentor, Emily, back with us as well as a student, Elliot. We are glad that they are back with us and healthy.
After picking them up, we all went back to the resort for a quick lunch before getting ready to go to pig island. When arriving, we were greeted with many mama pigs and their babies. After an hour on the island we participated in some team games before leaving the island.
We then got ready for dinner and then ate. Following dinner we went out into town to exchange money and do a little bit of shopping. We were all very tired after a long day so we went strait to bed after.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 21
Written by Bebe
We woke up early in the morning, grabbed our last breakfast in Koh Samui, then headed off to the airport. Our flight was delayed but we finally reached our hotel in Bangkok, then headed off to see Bangkok’s biggest reclining Buddha temple. Afterwards we headed off to our goodbye dinner at a delicious restaurant. Following the dinner we did a closing activity and started to say our goodbyes.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 22
Our last day of the program arrived.. Today and yesterday we said goodbye to our amazing students!
We hope all students have a safe trip home and continue on with a fulfilled life of learning and commitment to make a better world!
We will miss you,
Margarida, Luismi, Emily, Ila, Mai & May – The GLA team